Smoking ban results in 11,000 fewer child hospital admissions a year

If you ever needed evidence of the benefits of smoke-free legislation, this is it. One of the most comprehensive investigations into the impact of the smoking ban on child health in England has shown it has resulted in over 11,000 fewer admissions to hospital a year from respiratory infections in children.

Child in hospital

Researchers analysed 1.6 million hospital admissions in children aged 0-14 across England from 2001-2012. The results found that the introduction of legislation was followed by an immediate reduction of 13.8% in admission to hospital for lower respiratory tract infections. Admissions for upper respiratory tract infections also decreased, but at a more gradual rate.

While passive smoking is bad for everyone, children are especially vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke as their lungs are smaller and are still developing.

If you have children and want to quit, then speak to your pharmacist who can provide advice and support, as well as a range of nicotine replacement options to help you kick the habit.

Smoke‐free legislation and childhood hospitalisations for respiratory tract infections Authors: Jasper V. Been; Christopher Millett; John Tayu Lee; Constant P. van Schayck; Aziz Sheikh DOI: 10.1183/09031936.00014615
European Respiratory Society (ERS)

Even modest exercise helps the elderly

Even short periods of low intensity exercise can benefit life expectancy for elderly people.

For the average person an exercise program of 30 minutes for five days a week (or 150 minutes per week) has been shown to reduce the risk of death by 30%. However, the ‘pros and cons’ of exercise for elderly people has not been so clearly determined.

Now, a French study has shown that in the elderly the risk of death also decreases with greater and more regular exercise. Over 1,000 people were enrolled in the study at age 65 in 2001 and followed-up for 13 years. Although 10% died during this period, the risk of death was calculated to be 57% lower in those whose activity level was equal to or higher than 150 minutes a week.

There were other significant findings too – notably that starting or restarting physical activity during retirement reduced the risk of death by two-thirds.

As a simple rule at least 15 minutes of physical activity for five days a week would be a suitable first target for the elderly. This could include brisk walking, cycling or swimming. Ask your pharmacist if you need advice.

Short-sightedness becoming more common across Europe

Myopia – or short-sightedness – is becoming more common across Europe, according to a study by King’s College London. Around a quarter Europeans are short-sighted but it is nearly twice as common in younger people, with almost half (47 per cent) of those aged 25-29 affected.

Short sighted

The study found a strong link between myopia and level of education, with levels in those completing higher education around double to those educated to primary school level. However, while younger generations have spent more time in education, this does not fully explain why myopia is becoming more common.

Myopia generally develops during childhood and adolescence and causes blurred vision that has to be corrected by glasses, contact lenses or laser eye surgery. High myopia carries a risk of sight-threatening conditions such as retinal detachment and glaucoma.

The academics admit they do not fully understand the reasons for the shift, but at the very least it is good news of opticians and spectacle makers.